Melbourne City Attractions for First Timers (Part 1)
Updated 29 June 2016
Melbourne is a stylish capital with beautiful architecture and a distinct cosmopolitan. The city has a rich combination of arts, culture, good restaurants and shopping. I don’t know how many times I have heard about how Melbourne City is one of the most livable cities in the world. With their famed family-friendly working hours, cosmopolitan mix of people, and their oh-so-wonderful art vibes and museums, I can only dream of how nice it would be to stay a couple of years here. So what are some of the top Melbourne city attractions you should visit?
One of the best ways to explore the city is to take the City Circle Tram. It operates in both directions of a circular route passing major tourist attractions in Melbourne CBD. It’s FREE and you get commentary on the places of interest along its route. *Nice!*
- Daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday)
- 10am-6pm (Sun-Wed); 10am-9pm (Thurs-Sat); Detailed Timetable.
- Route Map in PDF
Following the City Tram Route, you will be able to visit the following places:
1) Flinders Street Station
You can make the first stop at Flinders Street Station, a major landmark at Melbourne. It is Melbourne’s most recognizable landmark and its still operating as the busiest suburban railway station in the south. There’s a Melburnian idiom, “I’ll meet you under the clocks”, referring to the row of clocks above the main entrance. The clocks actually indicate the departure times of each train line.
2) St Paul’s Cathedral
From Flinder’s station, you can cross the street to St Paul’s Cathedral and admire the architecture. 2016 marks the 125th year since the Consecration of St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne.
While we were there, there was a service going on, and hence unable to go around snapping photos. You can join their worship services held daily at various timings. Regardless whether there’s service or not, it’s respectful to keep your voices down in places of worship. :)
Beautiful stained glass of the cathedral
Cathedral Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday: 8am – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm
Sunday: 7:30am – 7:30pm
Public Holidays: 11am – 3pm
3) Old Treasury Building
After that, you can take the tram to the eastern end of Flinders St and visit the Treasury Gardens with the Old Treasury Building. The building’s origins lie in the 1850s Victorian gold rush, which brought great wealth to Melbourne. It was constructed between 1858 and 1862.
It’s open from Sunday to Friday 10am-4pm (closed Saturdays), free entry. Since it closes early, we were making a rush for it, just so we could catch a glimpse of Melbourne’s gold rush history. After a visit, I think you can skip this place if you have a tight travel schedule. Nothing worth mentioning.
3) Parliment House
After Old Treasury Building, backtrack to the corner of Flinders and Spring Street and turn north into Spring Street to visit the Parliament House. Since it’s a Parliament House, there’s strict security. The guards will check your bags and prohibit sharp objects, etc. And you have to leave your bags at the reception. You also have to walk through a scanner.
When the Parliament is sitting, visitors are welcome to come in and see Parliament in action. You can check the Calendar for the sitting dates on their website. However, there might be a higher security check and more restricted areas to tour around. But not to worry, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly (the Houses) both have public galleries, which are open whenever the House is sitting.
We didn’t know about it, and we arrived while the Parliament sitting was ongoing. They didn’t allow us in until it was over, so we waited around outside for a while.
Be sure to go for the Public tours at 9.30 am, 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 1.00 pm (Express Tour), 1.30 pm, 2.30 pm , 3.30 pm and 4.00 pm (Express Tour), from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).
It’s so much more meaningful when there’s someone to describe the place, who the people in the portraits are, what’s the seat for, etc. And probably the tour guide will start sharing a bit of the current hot political issues. You will appreciate this place more.
Hang around the Chinatown Precinct and Bourke Street area. It was the discovery of gold in 1851 which attracted Chinese immigration to Victoria in search of the “New Gold Mountain”. The small but burgeoning Chinese community in Little Bourke Street provided for all the needs of the diggers – accommodation en route to the goldfields, food, medicine, etc.
Now, you can still find a number of cafes and restaurants where you may want to stop for tea. There are many drugstores here. Great place to buy those things your mum asked you to buy, such as fish oil.
5) The State Library of Victoria
From Chinatown, you can either walk or tram to La Trobe Street for State Library of Victoria. I love libraries. I love studying in libraries. And this library was the best ever yet. The moment I stepped into the domed reading room, I was enthralled. It was the nicest library I ever stepped in. It would be so nice to study in here.
The Library takes up a full city block, and their galleries, reading rooms and display spaces are located across a number of buildings. We lost our way in there and probably missed some exhibits. To help you navigate better around the library, here’s a printable Library map (pdf, 144 KB).
Library Mon–Thurs 10am–9pm, Fri–Sun 10am–6pm
Galleries daily 10am–5pm
Update: From 5 March 2018, as part of our Vision 2020 redevelopment project, artworks in Cowen Gallery and the Blue Rotunda will be removed and the Red Rotunda will temporarily close